Gateway Theatre
Anne of Green Gables - The Musical Book by Donald Harron, Music by Norman Campbell, adapted from the novel by L.M. Montgomery

When & Where December 15 - 31, 2022, 7.30pm; Sat & Sun matinees at 1pm | MainStage at Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Rd, Richmond

Director Barbara Tomasic Music Director Sean Bayntun Choreography Nicol Spinola Set Designer Jessica Oostergo Costume Designer Donnie Tejani Lighting Designer Sophie Tang Sound Designer Darren John Technical Director Nicole Lamb Properties Carol Macdonald Stage Manager Koh Lauren Quan

Cast Anne Kyra Leroux, Diana Scotia Browner Gilbert Angus Yam Josie Marija Danyluk Marilla Katey Wright Matthew Anthony Santiago

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Anne of Green Gables is a perennial favourite and rightly so. It is effervescent, optimistic, energetic and cheerful. These qualities are on full display at the Gateway Theatre.

With few exceptions, the members of the cast are emerging artists just beginning their careers or still studying. Singing, dancing, acting and playing in the on-stage band, they display remarkable confidence and talent.

Outstanding is Kyra Leroux who not only looks the part but invests it with the boundless enthusiasm of L.M. Montgomery's heroine. In a nicely graded performance, her Anne grows, through various adventures, from a passionate child to a generous young woman of keen understanding. Leroux has an infectious smile and bags of charm added to a strong singing voice and dancing chops.

Scotia Browner, Marija Danyluk and Angus Yam, all held their own as, respectively, Diana Barry, Anne’s best friend; Josie Pye, Anne’s worst enemy; and Gilbert Blythe, Anne’s opponent. Except for Anne, Marilla (Katey Wright) and Matthew (Anthony Santiago) the multitalented cast each took on several roles as well as playing one or more musical instruments and shifting scenery. Even Sean Bayntun, the music director, played a couple of characters as well as a mean, very infectious piano.

Katey Wright and Anthony Santiago, the reserved siblings who wanted a boy to help with the farm and got a girl who stole their hearts, together make a solid centre for life at Avonlea to swirl around. Both are adept at illuminating hidden emotions.

A lavish quantity of props from drying laundry to tea services and trays, from baskets of eggs to an ice cream machine countered Jessica Oostergo's deceptively simple set - a frame for the farmhouse, abstract trees. Superb lighting by Sofie Tang characterized and defined the space and shaped the mood. Lively, varied dancing (choreography by Nicol Spinola) and spirited fights from Sylvie LaRiviere kept up a fast pace, which the director Barbara Tomasic never allowed to get out of hand. Costume designer Donnie Tejani evidently had great fun with ladies fashion at the turn of the last century. Wonderful colours, sweeping skirts and, of course, puff sleeves abound with more practical wear for school and farm work.

Accolades all round for a great show that should put you in a holiday spirit, generous, joyful and kind.

© 2022 Elizabeth Paterson